Rescuer warns against abandoning domestic rabbits after one found in Destrehan dies due to injuries

Delmar the rabbit was found with several broken toes, a fracture, puncture wound and an abscess that would require amputation.

Donna Rome, who helped rescue two pet rabbits from near a canal around Ormond Place, is warning the public that these cuddly creatures are not discardable, especially after one of the animals had to be put down due to the suffering it endured during the ordeal.

Rome was at work in Metairie when she got a call about the first rabbit, which was found in the dirt and grass across the canal from Ormond Place. The bunny was soaking wet, Rome says. She was called into action by a man who lives in one of the nearby condos, Ray Bealer, who had spotted the rabbit.

“Ray had tossed some fruit for the bunny to eat, and he moved him to taller grass so he wouldn’t be seen by predators,” Rome said “After the call, he went get the bunny and put him on a towel in a laundry basket.”

Rome added that rabbits cannot monitor their body temperature, so if they get wet they could lose body heat and go into shock.

“They need to be dried right away,” she said. “That’s why it is never recommended to give a rabbit a bath.”

After picking up the small breed lionhead rabbit, Rome noticed that its ears were completely crusted with mites and it had a crooked front paw and a bleeding foot. The rabbit was also missing several toes.

“I put him on some shredded paper and put a heater near him and wrapped him in a dry towel,” Rome said. “I named him Delmar since he was soaked and saved.”

The name comes from the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou, which stars George Clooney.

Rome called Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital and brought Delmar in for an exam. 

“Delmar had several broken toes and necrotic tissue and bone sticking out of his skin,” she said. “His twisted paw was determined to be an old injury.”

Just two days after bringing Delmar to the hospital, Rome got a call about another discarded lionhead rabbit located in the same block at the corner of Houmas Place and Ormond Place.

“The resident, Kenny Laney, put him in a box and had him waiting for pick up,” Rome said.

She named the new rabbit Everett, also a character from the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou. 

Meanwhile, Rome got some bad news about Delmar. The hospital had discovered that the rabbit had additional swelling on the right back foot, a recent fracture, a puncture wound and an abscess on Delmar’s right front leg that would need amputation.

“I had to make a decision to let Delmar go,” Rome said. “He would not have recovered well enough to ever be adopted and there is no guarantee he would have no issues in surgery. The bill would have shot up to about $800 and that wasn’t something I could prepare for.”

The news about Everett was much more positive. He only had one missing toenail and a minor case of ear mites, which Rome treated.

“He still needs his exam and neuter, but a rescue friend volunteered to take him and sponsor his vet needs,” Rome said.

That friend will also adopt Everett.

“Domestic rabbits do not have the instincts to survive in the wild,” Rome said “If they are white, there’s a target on their back. Hawks, owls, cats, dogs, coyotes, crows and other predators will hunt and eat them. Domestic rabbits also can pick up dangerous parasites from eating contaminated grass or drinking contaminated water.

“There’s too much ignorance concerning pet rabbits in the United States, or at least here in Louisiana. They are straddling a strange existence between livestock and exotic pet.”